While the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent to close out 2018, it's still at a historic low, making hiring highly competitive for employers across industries. In fact, a recent study from CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that nearly one in five small business owners have open positions that have gone unfilled for more than three month. Ultimately, this means employers need to sell top talent on joining their team, rather than the other way around.

The competitive hiring market means employers need to sell top talent on joining their teams, rather than the other way around. To capture the attention of quality candidates, many companies are thinking outside the box when it comes to employee benefits. Below, I've outlined several examples of unique benefits employers are offering given the low unemployment rate.

Paid Training for Under-Qualified Applicants

Top employers have comprehensive training programs in place to help staff grow in their roles and move up the ladder in their careers. But some companies are taking training a step further -- 31 percent of business owners in the CNBC and SurveyMonkey study have paid for training and education to prospective hires who otherwise would have been unqualified for the role.

Your team might be missing out on job seekers who would be a great fit for your team's culture but decide not to apply because they fall short when it comes to the role's requirements. By offering a paid training benefit, your team can open up the hiring pool to a new set of candidates who might not have applied without full qualifications.

Student Loan Support

According to a study from the Center for Financial Services Innovation, more than one-third of employees (36 percent) say personal finances are a distraction at work. And for many employees who indicated this, a top financial stressor is student loan repayment. Because of this, some employers are adding student loan debt assistance as an employee benefit.

Clothing retailer Carhartt offers eligible employees $50 a month toward student loan repayment, and a lifetime maximum of $10,000. And Hulu pays employees up to $1,200 a year to match their student loan repayments.

Beyond student loan repayment support, Discover, the credit card company, rolled out a benefit in 2018 enabling employees to earn a full-ride bachelor's degree online from three different universities. Many of the company's call center employees don't have college degrees, so this will give them the opportunity to continue their education and grow in their careers.

Not only can offering this benefit help prevent employee distraction from financial stress, but it will also enable your team attract top candidates when they see this benefit listed on your career site and in job descriptions.

Expanded Family Benefits

For many U.S. employees, the availability of family-related benefits make or break whether they accept a job offer. So to meet the demands of today's talent in an applicant-driven economy, many top employers have expanded their family benefits - including family leave policies, childcare reimbursement, and more.

In 2018, General Mills more than tripled its paid maternity and parental leave policies, with birth mothers now receiving 18 to 20 weeks of paid leave, and fathers, partners and adoptive parents receiving 12 weeks. The company also added a caregiver leave benefit, enabling employees to take two weeks of paid leave to care for family members with serious health conditions.

Also in the past year, Starbucks rolled out subsidized child care for all U.S. employees. In partnership with Care.com, Starbucks now provides 10 subsidized backup daycare days for parents when regular care falls through. This enables parents to rest assured knowing their children are taken care of without needing to miss work due to a childcare issue.

At a time when job seekers can be more selective than ever before when making career moves, your employee benefits are critical to your hiring and overall business success. By considering some of the benefits outlined here and expanding your benefits as a whole, you can attract top talent, leading to increased productivity and profitability.

Published on: Jan 8, 2019
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